One can say it was a successful campaign for India at Tokyo 2020. Especially after the kind of performances given by the Indian contingent in almost every game barring one or two huge disappointments. The hunt for ‘Olympic Gold’ finally came to an end after 13 long years. Thanks to Neeraj’s heroic javelin throw of 87.58 metres. Indian hockey team both Men and Women played exceptionally. While the Men’s team clinched Bronze if not Gold, the Women’s team just missed by a whisker in winning Bronze. We must note that India sent its highest ever contingent to the summer games. A total of 124 athletes participated in 18 sports. Whereas there are a totally of 33 sports. We can conclude here that India couldn’t participate in 15 sports.
We have been celebrating the success of a handful of athletes for the last few days. No doubt this achievement by the Indian contingent calls for celebration. But it also calls for introspection like never before. Right when the games were still on, we have heard controversies on multiple sides. Much was expected from Archery and Shooting. But both sports didn’t even win a medal and there were issues discussed. Table Tennis player Manika Batra was refused to have a coach by her side. Celebrations are good, what about introspection? Olympics is never an easy stage to win medals. Having said that, it’s not impossible to win medals. When the countries like China, USA, Japan and UK can win medals. India can win too.
But will India win the number of medals that the Americans, Chinese or Japanese win?
As per me, the journey towards winning medals is composed of ‘economy’ and ‘psychology’. Yes, these are the subjects and more importantly social sciences. The economic status of the country is a vital aspect as it leads the people in participating or not participating in sports. A better economic state of the country will push funds in various departments. Be it health, sports, education etc. The expenditure on sports, education is directly proportionate to the number of athletes produced by the country. In the case of the USA, Japan, China and the other European nations, the sports expenditure by the respective countries is high. This is not the case with India. India stands as the 6th largest economy in the world. Going by that variable, India should finish in the top 20. This after considering India’s not so diverse sporting culture. That also doesn’t seem to be happening… good news is that India finished at the 48th position. India’s best finish in 41 years…
Now will increasing the sports and education expenditure increase the number of top athletes? Maybe not. This is where the other subject ‘psychology’ comes into the picture. Yes, money is the need of the hour for India to better its performance. Equally or maybe slighter highly important is the mindset of the athletes and the ones who train the athletes. Above everyone, the mindset of the nation’s people has to be corrected. Even today in 100 parents, 90 parents will not be ‘okay’ to send their kids to choose sports as their career. That may sound harsh but parents behave in certain ways because they have seen life. Because one among those parents always wanted to be a sportsperson but managed to do ‘nothing’. Nothing not because he or she was incapable but because the ‘incapables’ are judging the ‘capable’.
A change in the mindset will do a world of good for India and its chances in Paris 2024
There is no shortcut to success and it’s close to a miracle to ask India to win 30+ medals in the next Olympic games. But as they say, if there is a right vision and set goals, the job is half done. Unfortunately, India lacks just that. Aditi Ashok was not known to 99.9% of Indians till the last round of the golf event. Come the last day maybe 10% of Indians got acquainted with her name and the game she plays. There are multiple issues with the country but there is high potential for quick growth. Both in terms of economic growth and Olympic growth.
Incredible India needs visionary leadership. A path-breaking step that can cut down the corruption in sports. Better infrastructure and the unexplained love for cricket. The day India moves out of being obsessed with Cricket and participates in every sport is when we will see more Olympians who are medal winners. There has to be grass-root level changes in every sport. Pick the right talent, scout for the best players no matter what’s their background. Another thing that India must change is to treat ‘sports’ as entertainment or ‘time pass’ activity. There’s a lot to change and all that can change with one small change. A vision, a leader who is a true partisan of sporting culture…